A recent article in JAMA Dermatology (Helvind NM, et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1481.) reported that incidences of melanoma in situ and invasive melanoma are on the rise. The Danish researchers reported rises in both male and female populations. They also stressed the need for better prevention measures, particularly in children and young adults.

Other research states that melanoma is the fastest growing type of cancer globally, with an annual increase of between 3 -7% in fair-skinned Caucasian populations. Both the early stage in situ melanoma and the later stage invasive melanoma are increasing year over year in contrast to other forms of cancer, which are plateauing. The recently released Danish study confirms earlier findings.

The Danish study stated that Denmark has the fifth highest incidence of malignant melanoma in the world and that it has more than doubled in the past 25 years. It is the most common cancer in young women between the ages of 15 and 39 and the second most common cancer in men of the same age range.

Some researchers debate why the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise, saying that better diagnostic procedures and better focus on melanoma have led to increased diagnoses. As more and more understanding of the disease leads to better prevention and early stage detection, hopefully the numbers will begin to decline.

As we work to create better treatments for melanoma in situ, including topical treatments, hopefully we can begin to create solutions that prevent future invasive melanoma incidences. Additionally, a greater understanding of the causes of melanoma will leader to prevention measures like decreasing unprotected exposure to the sun.